New judge appointed in Laquan McDonald cover-up case

- A new judge on Tuesday was appointed to hear the case involving three Chicago Police officers accused of covering up for fellow cop Jason Van Dyke who is facing murder charges for the deadly shooting of Laquan McDonald, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Cook County Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson will be handling the case against CPD officers David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney, Chief Criminal Court Judge Leroy Martin Jr. said.

Last week, Special Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes filed a motion to swap Cook County Judge Diane Gordon Cannon for another judge.

State law allows prosecutors to ask to substitute a judge they deem prejudiced against a case, without having to specify the reasons, within 10 days after the case is assigned.

Cannon was already the second judge assigned to handle the three officers, who were charged last month with counts of conspiracy, misconduct and obstruction of justice for allegedly filing false reports on the 2014 shooting of McDonald by fellow officer Jason Van Dyke.

The three officers’ arraignment last week was delayed when the first judge assigned to the case, Mary Margaret Brosnahan, recused herself. Cannon, generally considered a prosecution-friendly judge by courthouse observers, was randomly assigned to replace Brosnahan.

Van Dyke, who has been charged with first-degree murder in a separate case, fired 16 shots at the 17-year-old McDonald, claiming the teen was moving toward him and his partner, Walsh, when he opened fire.

Dashboard camera video from a squad car at the scene appears to show McDonald was walking away from Van Dyke and Walsh.

March was the lead detective investigating the shooting and filed reports that supported up Van Dyke’s account— and stated video backed up his versions of events.

Gaffney was one of the first officers to encounter McDonald the night of the shooting and was behind the wheel of a police SUV when McDonald slashed the vehicle’s tires with a knife.

Gaffney signed off on reports in which he stated officers had been injured by McDonald.

 

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